FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Coffee with an ex-terrorist in Kashmir
Posted:Jun 1, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Vivek Sinha
 
He gave furtive glances as he walked in and shook hands with me. I asked if he was okay as he seemed a bit uneasy. “I am fine, but I have to be cautious,” he replied as he stressed upon the word ‘cautious’.
 
He was an ex-terrorist.
 
Let’s call him Salim. This is not his real name, he did give me his real name but requested not to reveal it else his family might get in grave danger.
 
Salim met me at an upmarket coffee shop in the heart of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu Kashmir. “I am done with guns and my infatuation with all this Azadi stuff is over. Now, I only aspire to lead a normal life, take care of my wife, kids…” Salim spoke in a soft voice.
 
But why on earth did you ever pick up a gun? I asked cutting him short. Salim had said that he held a masters in commerce and was an expert on cyber security. By his own admission he could have easily secured a decent job.
 
“I was trapped,” Salim said without batting his eyelids. He added that one of his friends introduced him to a few people after Friday sermons at the local mosque in Shopian. These ‘friends’ often loaned him small amounts saying Salim is very well qualified to get a decent job and could easily repay them back. In return, Salim was required to iron out minor software glitches for them.
 
“Before I could realise I had taken a few lakh rupees from them to buy a high-end laptop and smartphone. I was still without a job. One day I was asked to come for a small gathering to ‘discuss’ about Kashmir. And that day changed my life for ever,” Salim said as he tried to fight the tears that had welled up in his eyes. I thought of myself as a Ghazi who was fighting for Kashmir’s Azadi so as to create an Islamic Caliphate, he added.
 
Instead of the laptop’s keyboard, his fingers now moved on the triggers of automatic rifles.
 
Salim was arrested by the Indian security forces from Gulmarg and had to serve a four-year sentence on various charges. His father abandoned him saying he brought disgrace to the family.
 
Does he think of going back to the life of guns and rejoin the Islamic struggle? “There was nothing Islamic about Kashmir struggle. What we were told before joining ranks and what we actually did was completely different. The foreign mercenaries who joined us in our Kashmir struggle were interested only in money and in women. They expected us to work as pimps for them. Is this an Islamic struggle?” he blurted out a volley of expletives in Kashmiri for his ex-comrades in arms.
 
Different terrorist groups active in Kashmir Valley receive funds in the name of Islam and so they have a vested interest to keep this Kashmir issue alive. I understood all this only after I fell into their trap, Salim explained further.
 
The terrorist groups with whom Salim worked earlier have since put him on their hit list as they consider him to be a threat to themselves. He explained that different names of terrorist groups are mere covers and all groups share a common agenda. Salim changes his address quite often and over the last couple of years has changed close to twenty homes.
 
This is tough considering that he is married and has two children. His requirements are simple: A job, a house and a decent school for his children. Yet, this is extremely difficult for him.
 
Salim’s eyes were fixed on a family sitting right across our table. After a brief pause he said that young boys at an impressionable age fall easily to the glib talk about Kashmir’s Azadi and think of themselves as a part of global Islamic struggle. “At a young age you hardly know much about history and politics. All you have is loads of energy, passion and a romantic desire. They know how to use and harvest your passion. They just use the cover of Islam to further their devious designs. A gun in our hands at a young age gives a sense of immense power and then there’s the pride associated with being a part of the struggle to establish Islamic Caliphate. I have understood their games very well. I have been through hell and I know their reality.”
 
Who are these ‘they’ you refer to? I was curious to know.
 
‘They’ are our handlers. These people could be from Pakistan or their agents in Kashmir often known as over ground workers, Salim explained. I later asked Salim about the defining moment when truth about armed struggle in Kashmir dawned upon him.
 
“After some time I was asked to commit robberies and shoot at my innocent Kashmiri brethren who refused to believe in Kashmir’s Azadi. At this time I realised that I am a petty criminal and not a Ghazi as I had believed myself to be. I was lucky to be arrested and get a chance to start afresh.”
 
Did he kill any innocent Kashmiri? Salim stayed mum to this question and stared blankly at the ground. A minute later he only said every moment I repent about my sins to Allah. “Not every terrorist is as lucky as me. Once they join ranks they are stuck till they get killed.”
 
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image A career diplomat, Chitranganee Wagiswara, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka, is the first woman to be the island nation’s envoy to India. As Foreign Secretary, she was Sri Lanka’s top diplomat for 18 months before being posted to New Delhi.
 
read-more
Israel has announced the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the Jewish state since New Delhi established diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv in 1992. The visit will take place July 4-6. 
 
read-more
These are depressing times. For quite some time I have been watching with utter dismay the Secular India which Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Husain Ahmed Madani, Abdul Ghaffar Khan and others fought for being systematically undermined by ultra-Hindu nationalists. The obsession with Mother Cow has
 
read-more
With weird concoction like "Beer Yoga" getting popular as the next big international fitness craze, the ancient art of inner blossoming is seemingly going topsy-turvy. And as yoga hogs the limelight on its third International Day, the loud call for saving the spirit of the ancient and modern practice can't be swept under
 
read-more
“We cannot allow the state brutality to which we are subjected each day snatch our humanity and values,” the Mirwaiz said, asking: “What will be the difference between them and us then?”
 
read-more
The standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in the Sikkim section of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two countries has led to a suspension of the Kailash Mansarovar yatra via the new Nathu La route.
 
read-more
The city of Marawi in the south of the Philippines has been engulfed by a deadly, ongoing siege since late May, when government forces began to take on heavily armed militants linked to the Islamic State. Local media estimate the death toll to be above 300. Over 200,000 residents have fled what has effectively become an urban battlefie
 
read-more
The Iraqi city of Mosul this week celebrates its first Eid free of the oppressive rule of the self-styled Islamic State (IS) in three years.
 
read-more
President Donald J. Trump hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India at the White House on June 26 for an official visit to Washington, D.C.
 
read-more
Column-image

Title: Reporting Pakistan; Author: Meena Menon; Publisher: Viking/Penguin Random House; Pages: 340; Price: Rs 599

 
Column-image

  A former Indian civil servant, who is currently a professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University, US spent long periods in distant villages and city slums of India. The result? A scholarly book that presen...

 
Column-image

  Title: The Exile; Author:  Cathy Scott-Clark & Adrian Levy; Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; Pages: 640; Price: Rs 699

 
Column-image

Jim Corbett was a British-Indian hunter and tracker-turned-conservationist, author and naturalist; who started off as an officer in the British army and attained the rank of a colonel. Frequently called in to kill man-eating tigers or leopards,...

 
Column-image

Title: Bollywood Boom; Author: Roopa Swaminathan; Publisher: Penguin; Price: Rs 399; Pages: 221

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive